Royal Ascot Tips: 5 Irish runners to follow at this week’s festival

The Irish challengers rarely leave the big Festivals empty handed and James Shortt is backing them to continue that trend.

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*Some Odds quoted on the widgets below are Future Racing/Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason, you will lose your stake under traditional antepost rules

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

It’s been an exciting Flat season so far with Charlie Appleby dominating the 2000 Guineas in England, Ireland and France, with Oaks glory for Aidan O’Brien thanks to Tuesday and Epsom Derby success for Sir Michael Stoute with Desert Crown. This years Royal Ascot will be as fascinating and regal as ever with plenty top Irish talent bidding for success over five wonderful days in Berkshire.

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TUESDAY 15:05 – COVENTRY STAKES: BLACKBEARD

BLACKBEARD booked his place in the Coventry Stakes with an impressive victory in the Marble Hill at the Curragh last month and looks a serious player in the first juvenile contest of the week. The six-furlong trip brought out his best performance to date when making it three from three in excellent fashion at the Curragh. The son of No Nay Never broke his maiden at Dundalk in April before battling to victory over Crispy Cat in the First Flier Stakes at HQ early last month.

He looked on course for either the Windsor Castle or Norfolk Stakes before his latest victory having appreciated the extra furlong and seen off the highly rated Tough Talk. The manner of that win was even more impressive having made all his own running under what looked a comfortable hands and heels ride by Ryan Moore. Aidan O’Brien described him as “strong, mature horse with a lovely mind,” after that HQ success, with the trainer now looking for his 10th career victory in the Coventry.

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THURSDAY – RIBBLESDALE STAKES: CONCERT HALL

Aidan O’Brien last won the Ribblesdale Stakes with Magic Wand in 2018 with that filly finishing fourth in the Oaks before returning quickly to score at Royal Ascot. CONCERT HALL has a similar profile having recently finished in the same position behind Tuesday at Epsom and looks a solid each-way contender at the time of writing. She was not disgraced behind some talented fillies and can go very close to victory here having already shown plenty of good experience and form this season.

The daughter of Dubawi won the Salsabil Stakes in game fashion at Navan in April before finishing a staying on third to Homeless Songs in the Irish 1000 Guineas last month – that’s excellent form. She was staying on well at Epsom and will be better suited to this track which suggests she’s very much a leading contender. The Clarehaven team of John and Thady Gosden has dominated this race in recent seasons, but Concert Hall has the right profile and it’s hard to see her not finishing in the places.  

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THURSDAY – HAMPTON COURT STAKES: BLUEGRASS

I’m hoping Aidan O’Brien can secure a fifth victory in the Hampton Court Stakes on Thursday with BLUEGRASS looking an intriguing contender for the Ballydoyle team. I had a small each-way bet on him in the Dante at York having produced what can only be described as a bizarre run when third behind Desert Crown. Having raced forward early, he soon became quickly outpaced and fell into last position before rallying in the closing two furlongs to finish a staying on third.

There’s no doubt the son of Galileo will have learned plenty from York with the form subsequently enhanced by Desert Crown and his outstaying Derby victory at Epsom. This looks the ideal race in my opinion, with a drop-in class and a somewhat similar profile to some of O’Brien’s previous winners looking a positive. Despite only winning a Curragh maiden, he heads to Ascot with good experience and will use his stamina to stay on best and challenge for victory at the business end of this contest. 

FRIDAY – CORONATION STAKES: HOMELESS SONGS (NAP)

HOMELESS SONGS produced one of the most impressive performances of the season with victory in the Irish 1000 Guineas and looks the best bet of the week for me in the Coronation Stakes on Friday. The manner of her victory, that exceptional turn of foot and closing sectionals all showed her classic victory was extremely special with connections having a seriously good horse this season. The Rosewell House team are clearly having a slow season, but the fact she was just one of two winners from 47 Irish runners in May, suggests she’s well above average and serious talent.

The form of her Curragh win has taken a positive boost with Tuesday’s success in the Oaks at Epsom and hopefully Concert Hall can enhance that further with victory in the Ribblesdale on Thursday. The opposition is headed by Inspiral (at the time of writing), and even though the Clarehaven team are flying, she’s surely going to need the run on return. I honestly can’t see anything getting close to Homeless Songs who will give Dermot Weld his second victory in the Coronation following Sutton Place’s win in 1978.

SATURDAY – CHESHAM STAKES: ALFRED MUNNINGS (NB)

Aidan O’Brien, Ryan Moore and the Coolmore partnership has dominated the Chesham Stakes with wins by Churchill, September, Battleground and Point Lonsdale since 2016. ALFRED MUNNINGS looks to have serious potential for the season ahead and can step out of maiden company to land this Listed affair on Saturday. The dogs were barking before his impressive maiden victory at Leopardstown, where he blew the opposition away with ease under Ryan Moore.

This race has been the target ever since his Foxrock victory and even tough he’s a short-price at the time of writing, it’s hard to look beyond him with stable-mate Auguste Rodin his main market rival. He’s bred in the purple, by Dubawi, out of Best In The World which makes him a half-brother to Snowfall and Newfoundland. There’s stamina in his pedigree and he’s bound to progress and develop into a top mile to 10-furlong horse next season having contested the big juvenile races later this year.

5 to follow at Royal Ascot

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

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